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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 8721

Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

(Question No. 2172)

Senator Humphries asked the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, upon notice, on 18 September 2012:

In regard to the 2012-13 financial year:

1) What is the net financial effect on the department's budget of: (a) the original 1.5 per cent efficiency dividend increase from 1.5 per cent (b) the additional 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend; and (c) other savings measures as introduce in the 2012-13 Budget papers.

2) What measures or strategies are being considered to ensure continued operation within the budget and efficiency dividend targets of the department.

3) What percentage of the department/agency's budget is designated to staffing?

4) What is the size of the department/agency's staffing establishment? Include figures for FTE, PT, casual, contractors and consultants.

5) Will or has consideration been made to reducing staffing compliment including contractors and consultants?

Senator Conroy: The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

1a. Refer to page 19 of the Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Portfolio Budget Statements 2011-12.

1b. Refer to page 18 of the Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2011-12.

1c. There were no additional savings announced in the 2012-13 Budget. The Finance Minister announced additional Departmental savings on 25 September 2012 and DBCDE will meet these.

2. The Department has undertaken some structural change as a result of reduced appropriation funding in 2012-13, which is now estimated to be $111.6 million, compared to $127.5 million in 2011-12. Together with the increase in the efficiency dividend, this funding change comes about as a number of reviews are completed; the Australian Broadband Guarantee program is fully wound-up; one-off funding for some activities related to the development of the National Broadband Network ends; and the digital switchover program expands into metropolitan areas. To address these changes, the department has:

­developed a new structure based around collapsing some SES jobs together, thereby reducing the size of the SES;

­offered some targeted voluntary redundancies in certain Divisions, where activities have ceased;

­reviewed a number of expense areas, such as travel, consultants and contractors, to identify savings; and

­reviewed the provision of corporate, legal and financial services of the department, and identified efficiencies in delivering these services to the department.

3. In 2012-13, employee benefits are projected to be $79.3m, or 66% of total projected expenses.

4. The Average Staffing Level for the department is projected to be 641 in 2012-13.

5. Yes. As noted in 2 above, the department has reduced staffing in certain divisions, particularly where activities have ceased, as well as around 20 positions in the corporate, legal and financial service areas.